With Tyson Chandler on the floor tonight for the first time in over a month, the Hornets' pair of All-Stars came up with a unique and effective way to welcome the team's starting center back into the mix.
New Orleans held a 10-point lead entering the fourth quarter, then staved off a Sacramento rally by tossing four alley oop passes to Chandler for dunks. Paul lobbed three "Crescent City Connection" feeds to the 7-foot-1 center, while David West also found Chandler for a slam during a crucial possession.
Chandler finished the game with 15 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter, along with 10 rebounds. It was his first appearance since he sustained a sprained ankle on Jan. 19 vs. Indiana.
"It's good to be back," a smiling Chandler said moments after the final buzzer.
Chandler ended up playing 32 minutes, a bit more than was projected, but he was key in New Orleans ending a two-game losing streak on the three-game road trip.
"I was a little winded out there," he said of experiencing fatigue late in the game. "It was tough in the fourth quarter, but I wanted to grind it out to get the win."
Though there was reason to be nervous at times during the fourth quarter, overall it was a pretty solid performance by the Hornets. All five starters and James Posey reached double figures in scoring. New Orleans shot 50.9 percent from the field and built a 61-47 by halftime.
HORNETS POSTGAME QUOTES
On letting the Kings back in the game in the second half
I just dont think we came out with the same intensity in the second half. We talked about coming out more aggressive in the second half and I thought we came out very lackadaisical. They came out and were able to get any shot they wanted. They got to the basket and it was a carryover for the rest of the game. That is something we have been fighting against. We had that team down pretty good. If we got really aggressive coming in the second half, it would have been a different story.
On the first game back for Tyson Chandler:
He looked great. I know he got tired in the first half. We moved on the court well and boarded. Obviously, he is still a little rusty as the five turnovers show. But I thought he was fantastic.
On his team moving forward this season:
This is probably the healthiest we have been in a while so if we are going to make a push, this is the time to do it. We have to go home and play two good teams. We have to take care of business and home, and then we have to start winning more road games.
On the incredible fourth quarter by Kevin Martin:
He is a scorer. Kevin is one of those guys who has a knack for putting the ball in the basket. He can do it from long range and he has a great skill as far as drawing fouls and getting to the free-throw line. The fourth quarter was scary because they have a guy like that and can put points up in a hurry.
On Tyson Chandler returning to the team:
It is something that doesnt happen every day. But we got our big fella back. He is a guy that knows the system and we know what to expect from him night in and night out. We welcome him back with open arms.
On forcing the defense to stop them:
You almost just have to pick your poison with us. We knew with TC (Tyson Chandler) back there, we have our lob factor back. Then when I get in the lane, Tyson is here and D West (David West) is open for the jumper. Then you have Peja (Stojakovic) there or do you let me shoot?